These works of Sally Beamish, composed 2003-12, highlight the inspiration she has found in her adopted homeland Scotland and its landscape and history, while also reflecting her interest in jazz and Scottish traditional music. Often collaboration closely with her performers, the present discs the three concertante works are all played by the eminent soloists for whom they were written: James Crabb, Branford Marsalis and Håkan Hardenberger. Conductor Martyn Brabbins and the RSNO, an ensemble that has performed her works on several occasions, join the former two soloists.
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Martyn Brabbins gives invigorating and authoritative performances of William Walton’s masterful symphonies. The musicians balance stunning control with breathtaking energy and character. Following the resounding success of Belshazzar’s Feast, Walton spent three years perfecting his dramatic first symphony. The immensely virtuosic work displays an astounding range of colours and emotional volatility, reflecting the turbulence of Walton’s private life. Despite its fraught gestation—the first performance in 1934 by the London Symphony Orchestra was missing the finale—this work met with an ecstatic critical reception and has remained popular ever since.
This disc presents a survey of music by Finnish composer Toivo Kuula, a pupil of Sibelius. Best-known for his songs and choral music, Kuula s arresting orchestral music draws heavily on folk influences and constitutes some of the most striking Finnish music of its time. Renowned soprano Susan Gritton and the BBC Concert Orchestra under the inspired baton of Martyn Brabbins give spellbinding accounts of this gloriously colorful repertoire.
British composer John Pickard has been widely praised for his architectural sense and bold handling of an extended tonal idiom. He is best known for a series of powerful orchestral works, of which The Flight of Icarus has met with particular acclaim. After its première at the PROMS The Times critic wrote: “Pickard's score remains airborne over its 20-minute span rather more proficiently than Icarus, leading the ear and imagination with impressive resourcefulness.”
Martyn Brabbins is at the forefront of contemporary music: well renowned and high profile, he conducted at the opening Night of the Proms 2012. The three orchestral pieces presented here are a masterclass in orchestral colour and sound. Each piece was composed a decade apart and they give a good overall sense of Pickard’s development. Booklet notes are detailed and informative (by the composer).
For those who have followed the career of Kalevi Aho (for instance through the more than 20 discs of his music released on BIS), it will be clear that he enjoys large-scale projects. One such project has been his ‘oboe project’, composing works in every genre for the instrument. These plans can be said to have begun soon after the Sonata for oboe and piano included here, composed in 1984–85 and thus possibly the first such work for this combination by a Finnish composer……
More than most composers currently active, Brett Dean uses music to tackle political and social themes of our times. A common factor in the works on this recording is the sometimes problematic aspects of human communication and the erosion and misuse of language. In his violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing, which was awarded the renowned Grawemeyer Award in 2009, Dean strikes a blow for written correspondence, demonstrating how, even today, the art of letter writing, the conveyance of wholly individual mood pictures, is possible.